Horacio Castellanos Moya at the Faulkner Words and Music Festival Dec. 6

Horacio Castellanos Moya, one of the most important Latin American writers of his generation, will give a reading at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, at the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St.) as part of the Faulkner Society’s Words and Music Festival.

Moya is the author of more than a dozen books, four of which have been translated into English. Raised in El Salvador, he has remained in self-exile since1997. He currently teaches writing at the University of Iowa.

Room 220 editor Nathan C. Martin had the pleasure of interviewing Moya for STOP SMILING magazine in 2009 shortly after the English-language release of two of Moya’s books: The She-Devil in the Mirror (New Directions) and Dance With Snakes (Biblioasis).

From the STOP SMILING interview:

SS: In She-Devil, Laura and her wealthy friends try to create this sort of isolated, encapsulated world, and feel ripped off because they live in San Salvador, where even if you’re rich you have to deal with things like poverty and crime.

HCM: Yeah, that’s a kind of colonial mentality—white people in the middle of native people. I think it’s a little bit more complicated, but Laura belongs to a circle of people that despise reality that is not their own. The rich classes in El Salvador are very, very enclosed.

SS: In Laura’s dealings with the police, it almost becomes self-defeating because the police are trying to help her by solving the case of her friend’s murder, but she won’t answer their questions because she feels like she’s above them.

HCM: The point here is not just the police. The point is that she thinks that [her class is] above the law. The law is not for them. The law is for the poor people, for the other people. That’s a mentality that is still around in Latin America, and that is one of the biggest problems in Latin American societies — that rich people believe they are above the law. They do not pay taxes, they do not approve of the fiscal reform that society needs, and they think police are kind of a private guard for them—like the justice system belongs to them, not to the State. That’s a terrible aspect of not only Salvadorian society—you can see that from Mexico to Argentina.

Read the full interview here.